Shape up or ship out

PRESIDENT John Magufuli unveils Prince Pharmaceuticals, located at Buhongwa on the outskirts of Mwanza City, yesterday. From left is First Lady, Janeth Magufuli, Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Charles Mwijage and Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu. (Photo by State House)

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  • Magufuli tells two dormant pharmaceutical factories to

PRESIDENT John Magufuli has issued an emphatic warning to the management of two dormant pharmaceutical companies, ordering them to submit production strategies or else give way for capable investors.

He gave the directive here yesterday shortly after inaugurating Prince Pharmaceuticals Ltd at the climax of his two-day official tour of Mwanza Region.

The directives came after the Minister for Industry, Trade and Investments, Mr Charles Mwijage, reported on slow progress in production of drugs by Dar es Salaam-based Keko Pharmaceuticals Company and Tanzania Pharmaceuticals Company Ltd.

Dr Magufuli expressed dismay over the fact that out of 15 pharmaceutical industries in the country, only five were operating well, calling for the situation to be revisited, challenging capable local investors to chip in. “I encourage local investors to invest in the pharmaceutical industry and the government will support you, provided you produce quality products,” he said.

He stated that Tanzanians were fed up with long processes and excuses by some investors in the industrial sector, citing the two factories that had failed to produce and meet public expectations for several years.

The President noted that Tanzania drug manufacturers had an advantage of benefiting from a high local demand, as well as open markets in the East Africa Community (EAC) and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) blocs, with a combined population of more than 500 million.

Dr Magufuli explained, however, that he would work on the request for a waiver of Value Added Tax (VAT) charged on locally produced pharmaceutical products provided production was boosted on a big enough scale to satisfy the local market with quantity and quality products.

Apart from the possibility of waiving VAT, the President urged pharmaceutical industries to ensure that eventually, the drugs are sold at affordable prices while simultaneously competing with imported drugs.

On the performance of other industries, notably Mwanza Textiles Ltd (MWATEX), Dr Magufuli said it should not be allowed to operate the way it was operating now, tasking Minister Mwijage to make immediate interventions.

The President assured all industrial sector investors of stable electricity supply within a few years, given the country’s anticipation to have a total 5000 MW as soon as Kinyerezi II, Kinyerezi III and Stieglers Gorge become fully operational. Earlier, the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu (pictured), said the Prince Pharmaceutical Company passed through a number of inspections and proved that it was capable of producing quality drugs.

She said on the basis of the breakthrough, the company had won a tender of supplying drugs worth over 2bn/- and that many more tenders were in the pipeline.

Ms Ummy said drug supply in Mwanza Region had also improved, citing an example of the current 5bn/- budget, against 1.9bn/- three years ago. She explained that at least 7.1bn/- would be set aside for next financial year to ensure smooth availability of drugs and other medical supplies in the region.

The minister pointed out, though: “We have a problem of poor estimates of drug requirements made by many district councils, as many are submitting partial requirements instead of real sales made by MSD. This area should be improved,” she noted.

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